Freelancers, is there something missing from your invoices? Not a thing! I hear you cry. We’re organised. We track every hour worked, expense incurred, and project completed. Every physical piece of work we’ve done has been charged for.
Well done. But there are other fees you should be charging, and some don’t even relate directly to the physical work you’ve handing over to your client.
Let’s take at look at the five fees all freelancers must remember to charge.
This mainly relates to writing or other creative pursuits, but sometimes to other industries too.
If a client has asked you to produce a piece of work that they then decide not to use because they’ve changed the project, their publishing schedule or just their darn minds, that doesn’t change the fact that you’ve put the time and effort in.
If the work is finished, charge a kill fee. If it’s not but you’ve still spent time on the project because the client commissioned you to, then ensure you charge for your time and any expenses incurred.
Last minute or rush fees
Rather than bill clients a separate fee for urgent work, you may just charge a higher rate when you have to produce work to a tight deadline. That’s fine, but flag this up to the client. That way, new clients know you don’t always charge such a high rate and regular clients don’t wonder what’s going on!
A better way can be to list a tight deadline or rush fee as a separate item on the invoice. How you calculate it is up to you.
“When a steady client comes to you with a last-minute project, they may not want to pay an additional charge since they already give you consistent work,” warned Speider Schneider in a post for The Freelancer. “As with any delicate client-freelancers interaction, you should negotiate respectfully. Your specific compensation depends on the relationship you have with the client, but a good starting benchmark is a 25 percent rush fee.”
Yes, you can legally charge late fees, and you can do so earlier than you might think.
The Late Payment of Commercial Debt (Interest) Act (1988), amended in 2002, states that an invoice becomes due on an agreed payment date (so always put a payment due date on your invoice), or otherwise, 30 days for public authorities or 60 days for business transactions after either:
- the customer gets the invoice
- you deliver the goods or provide the service (if this is later)
Once a payment is overdue, you can charge:
- A fixed penalty payment for debt recovery: £40 for each debt of up to £999.99, £70 for each debt of £1,000 to £9,999.99 and £100 for each debt of £10,000 or more. This means that if you have two overdue invoices from a client, each for £500, you should be claiming £80 as a debt recovery fee.
- statutory interest at 8% cent over Bank of England base rate (this is worked out on a daily basis and is not cumulative – see the Government guidance for a sample calculation).
It’s very easy to spend hours giving out free advice without even realising it. Look at those calls and emails you’ve answered; how much of your time did they take and how much paid work did they result in?
If you’re being asked for your opinion or advice because you’re seen as an expert, then it means they’re literally worth something – and giving them freely may be taking up time when you could be earning. Politely mention to enquirers that you’re happy to give advice, but that anything other than a brief reply will count as a consult and incur a fee. Don’t be afraid to invoice for your advice if it’s worth seeking!
Extras and revisions fees
You may include a certain amount of revisions and amendments to your work in your original quote and it’s best to specify this. If a client wants a lot of changes or expects you to produce several successive drafts, make it clear to them that there will be extra charges before you go ahead. This means they won’t be surprised when these items appear on their invoice.
Also, beware those extra tasks and responsibilities added on to your original workload. The fatal ‘could you just…’ can add a lot to your workload and very little to your pocket if you’re not careful! Again, make it clear that any work outside the original scope and quantity of work agreed will be billed for on the client’s invoice.
It can be hard to charge for everything you do – and hard to charge for what your expertise and skill is worth. Try to keep in mind that you would expect an employer to pay you for the work you put in, including overtime and higher rates for unsociable hours when there’s a rush on.
You’re a one-person small business, so put your employer hat on when you quote and invoice, and ensure your employee is getting paid fairly!
Do you charge any of the above fees? Has a client ever refused? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.